January 20, 2023
Ms. Ada Colau Ballano
Mayor of Barcelona
Barcelona Municipal Council
Pl. de Sant Jaume
Dear Mayor Colau,
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion.
We write today in response to reports that the Barcelona Municipal Council will consider a proposal to annul Barcelona’s partnership agreement with Tel Aviv, ostensibly on the grounds of Israeli human rights violations. We urge you and your fellow Council members to reject this discriminatory proposal, which singles out Israel for condemnation among the over 20 countries whose cities are paired with Barcelona.
If the policy of the Barcelona Municipal Council were to end current relationships with cities whose national governments committed serious human rights violations, then we would expect St. Petersburg, Russia, Isfahan, Iran, and Shanghai, China, to be at the top of the list. Yet the Barcelona Municipal Council does not have on its agenda the severing any of these relationships, despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Iran’s ongoing severe repression of its population, and China’s treatment of its Uighur population, which some are calling genocide.
When Israel is singled out for criticism over human rights, the target is Israel and not violations of human rights. The intent is to delegitimize the Jewish state and not to protect victims. The result may be to increase antisemitism but will not improve conditions for Palestinians.
Sister Cities International rejects the tactic of severing relations: “While suspending or ending a sister city relationship to register disapproval of a foreign government's actions may seem, on the surface, like a positive policy protest action, it has the complete opposite effect – closing a vital and, ofttimes, last channel of communication with vulnerable or isolated populations.”
In 2017, the United States Conference of Mayors and ADL launched the Mayors’ Compact Against Hate, Extremism and Bigotry “to fight hate, extremism and bigotry and to promote the fundamental principles of justice and equality.”
We urge the Barcelona Municipal Council to adhere to those principles of the Mayors’ Compact, to accept the advice of Sister Cities International, and to reject any discriminatory condemnation of Israel.
CEO and National Director